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Best Chainsaws For Backyard Use

A chainsaw is a time-saving addition to your shed if you often have to cut large branches or even remove trees from your property. Its ability to cut through wood quickly will make it a favorite tool, even if you don’t need to use it often. 

Around the yard, you’re not going to be a full-fledged lumberjack. The chainsaw you choose should be suited to the size of your projects. Here, let’s look at what you need and how to decide which saw will do the job. Then we’ll review a few of the best we’ve found.

Types Of Work You Can Do With These Chainsaws

Chainsaws don’t differ much in “type”, but there is a wide variety of sizes to handle any size tree. Some of those are suitable only for professionals who trim or fell huge trees. But there are also models more suited to typical homeowners who have much smaller trees on their property.

Most often, you’ll use a chainsaw for cutting branches from a tree. They could be dead or perhaps they present some danger to your home or block a sidewalk. 

On rare occasions, you might have to take a tree down. This does take knowledge and care, but many homeowners can do so safely. Normally, a chainsaw blade should be at least two inches longer than what you’re cutting. 

That means an 18-inch bar can cut about 16 inches. You could, of course, cut from both sides allowing you to cut a trunk that’s 32 inches across. At that size, though, you’d best look for a pro – that’s a huge tree!  

Of course, once the branch or tree is down, you’re going to need to cut it into smaller pieces. A chainsaw can help make a branch more manageable or convert a trunk into firewood!

We’re going to look at chainsaws with bars from 16 to 20 inches. That will let you cut a branch or tree up to 18 inches across. Beyond that, we’d recommend getting a professional, anyway, unless you already have experience in felling trees. Even a smaller tree can cause harm to your property – or yourself. Larger ones can be deadly.

Learn the best way to prune a tree

What To Consider In A Chainsaw

Besides the bar length, there are several other factors to think about before choosing a chainsaw.

The power source is an important factor. Gas, corded, and battery-powered types are available. Gas and battery-powered give you the greatest range. Gas offers the greatest power when you need to cut a lot of wood. 

The power of a gas chainsaw comes at a price, though. They produce a good amount of exhaust. They also weigh more than other types. 

Battery-powered models are also heavy because of the batteries. Corded units are the lightest, but you have to contend with the limited range while also keeping the cord out of the way.

Gas chainsaws can be extremely loud – they may reach the same level as a snowmobile. Even electric chainsaws can be noisy. So ear protection is recommended no matter which type you choose.

Cutting smaller branches? Loppers could be the tool you need!

With many power tools, users like an “on” switch that doesn’t require them to keep it pressed while the tool is in use. However, particularly with a chainsaw, that can prevent a safety hazard. A good chainsaw will shut off automatically when you remove your finger from the button. It stays running only as long as you keep the button pressed.

Anti-kickback chains help prevent the chain from getting stuck or bound as you cut. Chain brakes will help prevent you from getting your hand too close to the whirring chain. Today, any reputable chainsaw includes these safety features.

Our Picks for the Best Light-work Chainsaws

Let’s have a look now at some of the best models in each power category.

Gas 

Ryobi 16-inch 37cc Gas Chainsaw

This pick from Ryobi offers a good saw at a fantastic price – and even includes a case! It’s a good entry-level model or for basic use if you have occasional work to do. 

The bar on this model is 16 inches, sufficient for most backyard jobs. The 37cc engine is good for this size unit. 

Like all gas models, this is a pull-start unit. It’s not bad to get started when cold, although some people say it’s tough when it’s hot.

It automatically oils the bar and chain, helping keep the mess down and preserving the life of your tool. 

Vibration is always an issue, particularly with gas-powered chainsaws. This model does a good job of minimizing it, though.

The case isn’t commercial-grade – but the saw isn’t intended for that, either. However, the case is tough enough. Just be aware that it’s not waterproof!

It’s easy to work the chain tensioner and change the air filter. No tools are required for either.

The weight is 10 pounds even. There is a 3-year limited warranty on this Ryobi product.

Echo 18-inch 40cc Gas Chainsaw

echo gas chainsaw review

Echo’s 18-inch gas chainsaw is another great choice. At 40cc, it easily handles dead wood as well as still-living branches and trees.

The unit starts well. Echo makes a point to promote its “digital ignition” and it seems to live up to the hype. Two or three pulls should have you going without problems.

The tensioner is easy to get to, as is the air filter. A combination “scrench” wrench is included for the tensioner. No tools are needed to check or replace the filter. It also has an automatic chain and bar oiler. 

It runs smoothly and without much vibration despite its power.

It’s pricier than the other gas models we’ve looked at, but it seems like a worthwhile long-term investment.

We do wish it included a case, although we know that’s not an absolute necessity. However, it would be nice if the safety kick guard was part of the deal. Instead, you have to buy that separately.

It weighs 12.2 pounds.

The warranty on this product is 5 years for consumer use, 1 year for commercial use.

Troy-Bilt 20-inch Gas Chainsaw

troy bilt gas chainsaw in profile

This 20-inch gas chainsaw by Troy-bilt offers the power you need to take care of most backyard jobs.

The engine displacement is 46cc, powerful enough to handle regular tasks around the yard. It isn’t a heavy-duty model, but it offers enough for the routine tasks you have to deal with on a regular basis.

The price adds to its value. If you’re just doing lightweight, “weekend warrior” type tasks, you can’t beat it. However, we don’t recommend it for heavy-duty jobs.

Including the case, this unit weighs 15 pounds.

A case is included, along with a small vial of chain oil.

Corded

Makita 16-inch Corded Electric Chainsaw

makita electric chainsaw pros and cons

This Makita chainsaw’s only drawback is that you’re tied to a cord. Otherwise, you’ll find it easy to use and fast-working so you don’t have to slave all day with your cutting work.

No tools are required for adjusting the bar or chain. It also has a self-lubricating system to keep it running smoothly. There’s a window to see the oil level so you don’t run out.

The cord hook is a nice feature so that you don’t end up unplugging yourself mid-job.

While gas saws are generally the most powerful, this one competes well. 

One drawback is that it doesn’t include any bar and chain oil. Most chainsaws do. And you should never run your chainsaw without first filling the reservoir.

This 14.5 amp should be used with a 12-gauge extension cord no longer than 50 feet.

It has a one-year warranty.

Earthwise 16-inch Corded Electric Chainsaw

earthwise electric chainsaw review

Earthwise wasn’t a company we were too familiar with, but when we saw that this product sold pretty well and has a great price, we decided to give it a try. We weren’t disappointed. It’s a quality product and well worth the price.

It’s self-oiling and no tools are needed to adjust the tension. It cuts surprisingly well.

This is a 12-amp tool. The recommended maximum extension cord length is 100 feet. You should be sure to use a 10-gauge extension cord at this length; under 50 feet you can use a 14-gauge.

It’s lightweight at a hair under 10 pounds.

It has a two-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Black+Decker Corded Electric Chainsaw

black & decker electric chainsaw

Black+Decker offers this reliable tool that will have you slicing through trees quickly and easily. It 

comes at a good price, too!

You’ll appreciate the toolless adjustments to the tensioner. All you need to do is twist the knob to tighten it.

It weighs a reasonable 12.8 pounds – a bit heavier than others, but not bad, either.

As a 12-amp tool, it shouldn’t be used with an extension cord of over 50 feet. Use a 12-gauge cord with it.

It self-lubricates well. You’ll be able to read the oil level easily through the clear window.

It has a two-year limited warranty.

Battery-powered

EGO 16-inch Lithium-Ion Cordless Chain Saw

ego cordless chainsaw

You can depend on this cordless saw to help get the job done efficiently. EGO offers this 16-inch model that’s easy to use and care for. It does a great job cutting up trunks and branches. And it can handle felling a tree.

It’s still a light-duty chainsaw, so don’t plan on cutting up several tries in one go. But it will get through a tree or two quite well.

You can adjust chain tension with an easy-to-use knob. The system is self-lubricating and there’s a handy oil-level gauge so you know when it’s time to refill.

A battery and charger are included. On the website, you can find an option to order the chainsaw without these if you already have other EGO tools. The included battery is 56 volts and 5.0 Ah.

The battery life seems satisfactory, but it’s hard to give a number. It will vary widely depending on the type and thickness of the wood you’re cutting.

There’s a 5-year limited warranted on this EGO chainsaw.

At the link, you’ll find it with or without the charger and battery included. You can also get a replacement bar and chain.

Milwaukee 16-inch Lithium-Ion Cordless Chainsaw

milwaukee cordless chain saw

Another 16-inch bar chainsaw, this one from Milwaukee cuts well and will have you back to watching the game as soon as possible.

The maker claims you can get as many as 150 cuts on one charge, which sounds like a good deal. Of course, that’s going to vary by wood type and thickness. The charger and battery are not included, although you can find a “kit” with those items – and more – on the Home Depot page.

The saw cuts great, but we’ve heard a lot of complaints about the chain working loose easily, though. It either falls off and needs to be reattached or the tension frequently needs to be adjusted. Adjustments are necessary with any saw, but this one may require more than an average number. It’s something that you can normally adjust yourself, but it is an annoyance. It doesn’t seem to happen to everyone, but enough people have the issue that it’s worth mentioning.

Both the battery and the saw itself are covered by a 3-year warranty.

DeWalt Flexvolt 16-inch Lithium-Ion Cordless Chainsaw

dewalt battery-powered chainsaw

This entry in the battery-powered chainsaw market lives up to DeWalt’s reputation for quality power tools.

A 60-volt, 3.0 Ah battery powers this chainsaw. It can, under optimal conditions, make 70 cuts through 6-inch hardwood on one charge.

It runs quietly, even for a non-gas chainsaw. 

On the negative side, it seems to leak more oil than normal. Of course, every chainsaw “leaks” oil to lubricate the chain and bar; that’s part of the design. This one seems to leak a bit much. It’s more of an annoyance than anything else; just be sure to store it on dry rags or sawdust to absorb the excess.

The chainsaw is covered by a 3-year limited warranty and a one-year free service contract.

Conclusion

Not everyone needs a chainsaw, but they come in handy if you have to cut thick branches or entire trees. Be sure to consider how far from an outlet you’ll have to work, your level of comfort with the tool, and the bar length when making your choice. Above all, be sure to work safely!